Sunday | December 17, 2017
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Run, Josh, run: Honokaa, Kealakehe combine for play of the year

HONOKAA — As Josh Rodgers puts it, the reason he picked up a pair of shoulder pads was just to see what football was all about.

He found out in a big way on Friday night, rumbling 65 yards on a highlight reel run down the sideline against Kealakehe.

But more importantly, the Honokaa special needs student reminded everyone what high school football is truly all about, and the moments it can provide when sportsmanship rises to the top and the scoreboard is put on the backburner.

“It was fun, actually. A pretty good experience,” Rodgers said with a laugh. “Honestly, I’ve never been a football guy. I just wanted to try it out.”

With the game firmly in hand for Kealakehe at 31-7 late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers got his chance in the spotlight on homecoming night. He took a handoff, turned the corner and followed a convoy of blockers down the sideline for the score.

“When I was running, I was thinking, ‘Oh no, one of these guy are going to get me. I better run as fast as I can,’” Rodgers said. “I had some good blocking.”

Players from both sides celebrated with Rodgers down the sideline and in the end zone, as the crowd erupted with its biggest cheer of the night.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of high school football,” Honokaa head coach Noeau Lindsey said. “But sometimes, it’s good to take a step back and let things like this happen. High school football is for the kids and this was a great moment for the community to see.”

Lindsey had been playing with the idea of getting Rodgers involved in a game, but he credited junior Kamuela Boneza for bringing it to the table before the contest against Kealakehe.

It was meant to be. Rodgers’ carry went for 65 yards, coincidentally the same as his jersey number, which wasn’t planned.

“Even in a loss, to have a moment like that was incredible,” Lindsey said. “I got a little bit emotional out there. He practices every day with us between the JV and varsity. I’m very glad Kealakehe was into it and so supportive.”

Kealakehe head coach Sam Kekuaokalani said when Lindsey brought up the opportunity, he left the decision in the hands of his team captains. There was no hesitation from the Waveriders’ leaders.

“They had no questions about it,” Kekuaokalani said. “They were all in, right away.”

The video of Rodgers run has gone viral on social media, with both squads being applauded for their sportsmanship. But long after the video has stopped being shared and the box score has been buried in history, Rodgers’ touchdown will live on in Honokaa lore.

“You’re going to be a hero. People will remember this for a long time,” Lindsey said, looking at Rodgers.

 

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